Wastewater: Energy of the future?

Nov 14, 2005

Professor Jurg Keller at Australia's University of Queensland said he and his colleagues have discovered how to turn wastewater into electricity.

"We're very excited about it," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It has never been achieved before and there is really massive potential in this application."

Keller said the complex process involves extracting the chemical energy from pollutants in wastewater and converting it to electricity using microbial fuel cells.

"It's all happening in a thin biofilm, a sort of slime layer on the electrode where bacteria are growing and directly producing an electrical current," Keller told the newspaper, saying electricity was generated from the slime in much the same way energy is released when wood is burned.

Keller said it is unlikely wastewater will provide power on a large scale. He said the most obvious application is powering wastewater treatment plants, particularly in developing countries or areas with an unreliable power supply.

"This is not a solution to any energy crisis," he added. "It is primarily a wastewater treatment operation, but we're doing it in a way that generates energy, as opposed to using a lot of energy."

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Changing dinosaur tracks spurs novel approach

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tiny power generator runs on spit

Apr 03, 2014

Saliva-powered micro-sized microbial fuel cells can produce minute amounts of energy sufficient to run on-chip applications, according to an international team of engineers.

Green engineering for waste management

Apr 01, 2014

"Green engineering" is based on the idea of designing, selling and using processes and products that are technically and economically viable while, at the same time, minimizing pollution, as well as health ...

The promise and peril of nanotechnology

Mar 26, 2014

Scientists at Northwestern University have found a way to detect metastatic breast cancer by arranging strands of DNA into spherical shapes and using them to cover a tiny particle of gold, creating a "nano-flare" ...

Recommended for you

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

2 hours ago

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

5 hours ago

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

5 hours ago

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

6 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Unraveling the 'black ribbon' around lung cancer

It's not uncommon these days to find a colored ribbon representing a disease. A pink ribbon is well known to signify breast cancer. But what color ribbon does one think of with lung cancer?